New Book Release – The Cold-Footed Mob08 May 2017
The Cold-Footed Mob.
About 100 years ago a unit of about 250 Western Australians sailed for Europe and the war on the Western Front,
The short period in camp at Blackboy Hill was spent fitting uniforms and learning how to march. They received no weapons training and were not issued with any arms, yet they were a priority unit and despatched at the urgent request of the British War Office.
They were railwaymen. Skilled personnel desperately needed in France to transport the hug tonnage that industrial warfare needed.
Leaving Fremantle under the unexciting title of 3rd Railway section and being placed under the Royal Engineer Command structure they never attracted the attention of the Australian newspaper correspondents and even failed to gain a mention in the Official history.
The Cold-Footed Mob is a history of the 5th Australian Broad Gauge Operating Company; the company that was raised in WA; the first Australian Railway Company to arrive at the front and some of the stories of the men that served in it.
The First World War was almost two years old when recognition dawned on the war-time leaders that the War would not be won by Armies alone. France and Germany had started the war with armies of over one million men. Britain’s strength on the Western Front in June 1916 had reached nearly two million yet the stalemate of trench warfare remained. To secure dominance on the battlefield it needed the harnessing of the industrial strength of the country. Transport was a key element in this process and rail transport was the only method available with the capacity and flexibility to meet this need.
Two years of recruiting had attracted many railway men into the Army so when an appeal was made for more railway transport, Britain turned to the countries of the Empire for support. Following an appeal in November 1916 the Australian Government was able to offer five railway operating companies, one of which was raised in WA.
This history is different in that there are no battles, but there was heroism with several men winning gallantry medals. The men in the unit did not fit the “Bronzed Aussie” image of the AIF. They were older and the Q store struggled to find uniforms big enough for some. Many lowered their age to enlist. They did not view it as a great adventure but more a job to be done.
The book was launched on the centenary of the unit’s departure from Australia.
About the Author.
Tom Goode is a West Midland boy who in his childhood, played on the Midland Railway turntable and amongst the derelict locos in the back area of the workshops. He spent his teenage years in a railway house backing onto the Kalgoorlie Station in the days when it was the change of gauge. A career in Education paralleled a lengthy career in the Army Reserve so it was not surprising to find him, on retirement, a volunteer at the Australian Army Museum of Western Australia where the whole story started.
More formally, Tom holds degrees in Education and Mathematics and retired from the Army Reserve as a Lieutenant Colonel.
His contact details are:-
15 Harold Street,
Western Australia 6050.
Email: [email protected]
Mobile: 0419 900 751